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An Open Letter To Men At The Bar, From Women: Leave Us Alone

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An Open Letter To Men At The Bar, From Women: Leave Us Alone
Eaters Collective

I have never been described as stand offish. If anything I’ve been told by a lot of people I’m way more friendly and approachable than they expected based off the opinion they formed before meeting me. I love being in social settings and meeting new people and have never been one to turn someone away or ignore a stranger trying to politely spark conversation at a party. Most of the close friends I have are people I’ve met through just approaching them and saying, “Hey, let’s be friends,” at a party or some social gathering. I’m now 22-years-old and spend a lot more time in college at bars and casinos. I live in a small town right outside Atlantic City, so my nightlife can be really exciting and fun instead of just your ordinary local dive bar on a Friday night.

Since being able to legally go out to bars and clubs, I’ve had some of my most fun and memorable experiences in college aside from one thing, the true discomfort of not being left alone.

Any girl can paint the picture for you. Being out somewhere and being approached, not being interested, kindly asking them to go away and then being berated.

“You don’t have to be a bitch about it.”

“You’re not that hot anyways.”

On multiple occasions, more than I can count on hands, I’ve blurted out, “I have a boyfriend,” when I obviously don’t. Or, “My boyfriend’s actually here he’s just in the bathroom.” I began to get angry at myself. Why out of fear do I need to make up excuses and lies I thought. If I’m not interested, I’m not fucking interested. That should be enough, right?

So I tried it. I began to shake guys off. I never have been impolite, a so called “bitch,” or rude in any way. No person that’s approaching you to compliment you, offer a drink, or even start a conversation deserves to be treated as any less than you, and as a person I think it’s important we never give anyone a reason to be able to say that. So I stayed cordial, I nicely started to say, “Look I’m here to have fun with my friends not stand in a corner and talk to a guy all night.” Then it gets aggressive. I’ve been grabbed, had drinks thrown on me, followed through the bar to the point of discomfort, verbally harassed, and the list can go on. I can remember one time when I was in Miami with a few friends for spring break I went off alone to the bar to get a drink. A guy stood (too close for comfort of course) right next to me. I ignored him and continued to order my beer.

“Can I buy your drink?” He asked politely.

I thought about it. I had spent over 400 dollars at this point already on a vacation, I realistically couldn’t afford but so badly needed.

“You know what. I’m fine I can buy my own drink. Thank you though I appreciate it.” Knowing that once you agree to this, 99% of the time you are indebted to this random human for the rest of the night.

“There’s no need to be a bitch.”

Okay, I thought. After walking away with my drink I wanted to explode with anger.

I found this to be the most frustrating thing to happen to me yet, but I was wrong. A few months later I was at a casino with my friends. It was a bar we always go to almost every week. We knew people who worked there, bartenders, security guards and never once felt unsafe or had a problem.

The night reached 2:30-3:00 a.m. and we were ready to go home. We walked across the dance floor and I felt someone grab my arm. I turned around to a man smiling at me. I can barely remember what he said, I just knew I didn’t appreciate someone having their hands on me by any means without my permission and I tugged for my arm. My best friend’s boyfriend put his hand out and calmly asked him to let go. Without a thought the guy locked eyes with me and yanked my arm sending my neck backwards and by body forwards. After what clearly ended in a physical fight, me and my friends in security and me left with a decision to press charges. I decided it would be too much trouble I didn’t want, and with the clock hitting 5 a.m. going home and hiding in bed looked more like the comfortable, easy decision. I can remember also being scared. I didn’t know who he was, or he knew, or what would come out of sitting in front of him in a courtroom.

I began to get more frustrated as time went on. I would be nervous walking through a group of guys. Or being on the curb and waiting for an Uber and having to go back inside because I could hear shouting and footsteps getting closer. I lived in this sheltered place in my mind where I thought I was big and strong most of college. Then when in the real world, I realized I could really be hurt. So I, as most girls did, adjusted. I walked away from guys who seemed intimidating, whenever someone looked like they’d approach me I would stay really close to a guy friend to make myself look taken, and like your parents teach you when you can first understand words, any drink I put down was a drink I didn’t pick back up. But that’s not fair is the problem.

So from women everywhere: We don’t owe you anything. I don’t owe you my time, I don’t owe you a conversation, and I don’t owe you respect you’re not giving me. We, just like you, want to have fun.

I want to go out and not feel preyed on, I want to wear my new denim skirt from Urban without you touching my thigh, and by the way because my bottoms go above my knees, I’m not asking for any kind of attention. I am not property and your hands don’t belong on me without my permission or consent.

I didn’t do my hair and put on makeup to get hit on by you tonight, and my agenda for my best friends 22nd birthday goes beyond getting free drinks. Shocker, I know. Now if you want to have a normal conversation, you want to “shoot your shot” hell go ahead, but if I say it was nice meeting you and walk away, please do not follow me. TC mark

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